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  1. Crime: general
  2. Leading individuals

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Leeds-based solicitor advocate Rob Rode leads the crime practice at ABR Solicitors, which has a ‘number of specialists that complement each other well and a depth of talent’. Susannah Proctorcombines intelligence with drive, determination and judgement’ and heads up the criminal defence team in Harrogate and York. The team has been involved in cases ranging from human trafficking, grooming and sexual abuse, to grievous bodily harm, drug conspiracy and blackmail. The team also receives a regular flow of instructions from clients post-conviction under the Proceeds of Crime Act, including issues involving piercing the corporate veil, certificates of inadequacy and hidden assets. The practice is particularly experienced in the area of motoring law and undertakes numerous cases for the DVSA across the country.

At Cartwright King, Fran Lavender heads up the ‘exceptional’ crime practice from the Sheffield office. The team defends at all levels in the courts, on cases including heavyweight crimes such as murder, rape and drug possession as well as computer downloading offences. The team prosecutes for corporate bodies as well as legal aid, and is a member of the Very High Cost Cases Panel. The practice also has a dedicated motoring team and gives advice and representation in POCA proceedings. Zawar Shah and Matt Hague joined Howells in 2017.

FIRMS IN THE SPOTLIGHT

GT Stewart Solicitors & Advocates

GT Stewart is a specialist crime firm that deals with crime at all levels, offering clients a very high standard of client care. The firm undertakes mainly publicly funded work, although it is developing an increasing private client base.

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Kevin Blount heads the ‘excellent’ York-based Howard & Byrne crime practice, with Colin Byrne, who is a ‘real fighter’ and a ‘fearless solicitor to have in your corner’, leading the team on miscarriage of justice, bribery and corruption matters. The practice also has a prison law sub-department, headed by Jacky East, as well as notable expertise in court martial work. Recent highlights include representing a UK national standing before the Greek Courts on allegations of bribery and corruption. The team has also been representing youths in serious crime cases, including murder and arson, and, in one matter, represented a 15-year-old in a civil proceeding seeking the issuance of a Sexual Risk Order.

The crime practice at Howells is headed by the ‘proactive, knowledgeable and astute’ John Gibson in Sheffield, who has particular experience in defending clients who are alleged to be involved in gang-related crime. The department has considerable advocacy strength, with five solicitor advocates in the team. It covers a wide range of criminal defence work, including white-collar crime, drug crimes, homicides and historical sex abuse. The firm also carries out legal aid work and is particularly well known for its expertise in extraditions, youth crime, public order law and cases involving civil liberties, human rights and mental health. It has also been instructed in cases involving prison law, and in judicial reviews.

Paul Haycock heads the criminal defence team at Irwin Mitchell, which ‘brings the ethos of a big, corporate firm to criminal work resulting in outstanding service’. Haycock is based in Sheffield alongside John Davies and Sarah Smith. The team is instructed on serious general crime and complex regulatory matters with a national scope. Recent highlights include defending a client being investigated for theft of monies, defending a client involved in large-scale drug possession and defending a client allegedly involved in organised crime. The team also defends corporates and has recently defended a client being prosecuted by the Environmental Agency. Emma Windle is also recommended for general crime and regulatory offences.

Director Lindsey Lobley now heads the criminal defence team at Minton Morrill and is hailed as a ‘go-to defence solicitor’. Former head of team Philip Goldberg still undertakes all aspects of criminal work, but is now managing director following the merger of Lester Morrill and Mintons. Lobley is highly recommended and ‘has a tough yet persuasive style in and out of court’, while Goldberg’s ‘experience and expertise in criminal law means you get the highest-quality legal advice. Recent highlights for the team, which has an ‘unequalled reputation for excellence in Leeds’, include securing a lenient sentence for a client accused of GBH, and a successful representation in youth court in which a client was kept out of prison through the imposing of a referral order.

Geoff Rodgers heads the regulatory and criminal investigations group at Harrogate-based firm McCormicks. The firm is a member of the Very High Cost Cases Panel and is instructed on general crime and fraud cases. Senior associate Sara Morgan is also of note and is instructed on professional regulatory work. Recent highlights for the team include defending individuals in cases involving sexual assault and historical sexual abuse, gangland shootings, drug conspiracy, and gross negligence manslaughter. Peter Minnikin was promoted to the partnership in August 2016 and is instructed on a range of general crime matters, including drug, violence and sexual offence cases, as well as a range of regulatory work.

Switalskis Solicitors has a criminal defence department with particular experience and expertise in cases involving defendants who suffer from mental health problems. The team includes four solicitor advocates, a barrister, three solicitors and a crown court clerk. The practice is headed up by solicitor advocate Michael Devlin, who represents clients at all stages of criminal cases. Barrister James Littlehales deals with a variety of high-profile cases, including murder, money laundering and large-scale drug offences. Recent achievements at trial include a not guilty verdict achieved for a client in a multi-handed grooming case, and a not guilty verdict achieved in a murder case with a plea of manslaughter.

Managing director Greg Stewart heads the crime team at GT Stewart Limited in Leeds and specialises in serious crime, criminal appeals and reviews. The practice has a highly specialised appeals team and also advises and defends clients in POCA proceedings. Recent highlights include achieving a significantly lessened confiscation order in POCA proceedings relating to an offence of producing counterfeit tobacco, and successfully obtaining a sentence of 12 months’ custody for a client convicted of two burglaries, resulting in the client’s immediate release from custody. In a recent expansion of the team, assistant criminal defence solicitor Ben Tighe joined the team in February 2016 from Qamar Solicitors LLP.

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